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Calculated overcommunication: Strategic uses of prolixity, irrelevance, and repetition in administrative language

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

  • Sten Hansson
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/07/2015
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Pragmatics
Number of pages17
Pages (from-to)172-188
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date23/06/15
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Oversupply of information, irrelevance, and repetition in political and administrative text and talk have received considerable scholarly attention, but the tendency to date has been to analyse these phenomena separately. In this article, I argue that it would be fruitful to explore these aspects in combination, as constitutive dimensions of calculated overcommunicative behaviour in public administration. Based on a multidisciplinary review of literature on cognitive manipulation, prolixity, (ir)relevance, discourse repetition, and administrative behaviour, I propose an original 'overcommunication framework' for explicating certain discursive macro-strategies of positive self-presentation used by public officeholders. In particular, I discuss how governments may use calculated overcommunication to avoid or deflect blame, to signal democratic openness, and to perform swiftness. By problematising the notion of 'overcommunication' and introducing it into discourse studies, I seek to open up new avenues of understanding and investigating political and organisational communication.